pop guitar tone question

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by MudPies, Mar 24, 2008.

  1. MudPies

    MudPies Member

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    Hi all.

    I'm curious. We all know how terrible the guitar tone is in current pop music recordings. When a guitarist is hired to play in a pop sensations backing band on tour, are they forced to dumb down their tone into that horrible sound we've all heard on the radio, or do the touring bands get to use the great tone that most guitarists strive to find?

    :munch
     
  2. CWFurst

    CWFurst Member

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    What are you defining as "pop tone?" I think that there are some really great modern tones being accomplished with the pop/rock/country thing right now. If it's top 40 material it's highly probable that the mixing engineer is severly tweaking the tones of the guitars to fit whatever template he might be mixing in. Most of the time the producers are interested in catching the feel/mood of the song rather than perfecting each tonal part going into it. All this to say is that sometimes the song is more important than the tones.

    Either way, if you are sideman it's your job to sound like whatever they want you to sound like. That's what makes a good sideman and that's why you are there! There are moments of artistic freedom but that can be nipped in the bud really quick if you take it too far.
     
  3. MudPies

    MudPies Member

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    to clarify, I'm thinking the tones in the Spears/n'sync/Madonna type pop. Not popular band based music.
     
  4. kludge

    kludge The droid you're looking for

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    d00d, I'd rather be a call girl than play that crap.

    If you don't have your dignity, who cares about your tone?
     
  5. CWFurst

    CWFurst Member

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    I don't know if it's a question of dignity. They are just businesses and the players are just the employees.
     
  6. CWFurst

    CWFurst Member

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    For that paycheck I'd play whatever they told me to play. Most of that stuff is electronic based music so any live intruments are probably aimed at fitting in with that kind of mix.
     
  7. this1smyne

    this1smyne Member

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    wasn't there a thread on squishing the crap out of your tone to sound poppy? something about overuse of compression....
     
  8. kludge

    kludge The droid you're looking for

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    Perhaps "integrity" would be a better word, then.

    But that being said... I'm a firm believer that your FINGERS are the most important part of your tone, not gear. So copping accurate album-clone tones onstage is an exercise in left and right hand technique, more than getting the right equipment (this is the mistake a lot of players make just trying to imitate their favorite players... they swap guitars and amps and pedals, but don't sit and WORK at their pick attack)
     
  9. tonefreak

    tonefreak Member

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    So you play for Britney and you have no integrity? Makes no sense to me, and it sounds like you have very little experience in the world of touring/session guitarists.

    If Britney or Jessica or whoever is "pop" asked me to be part of the touring band... I'd be on the tour bus. You play that gig well, you'll get referrals to maybe something more your liking, but you can't be choosey in the begining... you have to start somewhere.

    Getting back on topic... it's sometime out of the guitarists control what actually gets printed. Producers and engineers could reamp and process the track into something they like, but horrid to others. Guys like John Shanks (producer/writer for Michelle Branch, Ashly Simpson, Vertical Horizon) has successfully, IMO, been able to capture some great guitar on those albums. Other producers... maybe not so much.
     
  10. jaywalker

    jaywalker Member

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    I'm frequently asked to reproduce the sounds on top 40 singles by artists, it's only when the producer/manager hears the alternatives that that changes.
    The essential thing to remember is to either capture the essence of the sound, or as I prefer - to look at the style the original guitarist/producer was trying to capture and move on from there.
    I have a session doing 80's pop and most solos were based around EVH for this group, so a 5150 with a musicman is always going to outweigh a transistor carlborough with a marlin sidewinder (at the time) in terms of rock tone.

    For that classic 80's/90's over compressed clean/chorus/tinny coil tap sound I've found that a BOSS AC2 into a BOSS compressor and a CE2 with a splash of cheap reverb does the trick perfectly.
    Here's a session doing 80's stuff where I used it for TV: http://beta.markiza.sk/video/tv-archiv/elan-je-elan/8929
     
  11. kludge

    kludge The droid you're looking for

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    No, I don't. And I'm not crying in my beer over it. Don't play cover bands, either.

    To be fair, I'm sure many guitarists could go and play whatever pop dreck they're paid to play and feel their artistic integrity is fully intact. More power to them. But I could not. Which makes me either an artist or a snob.

    And no, I wouldn't take the job to back Britney Spears even if it was offered, not if it just meant playing exactly what's on the record every night. That's a very different situation from when guitarists are brought on specifically to bring their own unique voice to a show (i.e. Steve Vai with David Lee Roth, back in the day). You can laugh and sneer if you like, but it's what matters to me as a musician.
     
  12. kludge

    kludge The droid you're looking for

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    And to be clear... what we're talking about is playing with a tone that you personally think sucks, because someone is paying you to do it. If you can get that Top 40 gig without playing what you feel is bad music or bad sound, more power to you. But I couldn't and wouldn't do it.

    (full disclosure: I sometimes cover "Oops, I Did It Again" - stole it from Richard Thompson, who is far more clever than me, not to mention a better guitarist than ANY of us)
     
  13. Lucidology

    Lucidology Member

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    Hey!! If only I was young enough to even be a contender for a spot in Britney, Christina, or whomever's young band ...
    Imagine having that gig. What fun that would be... Damn, who's complaining ..!!

    The most horrible thing I've ever encountered while playing in a cover band
    is having to play the guitar solo to the Commodores song "I'm Easy" note for note ...
    Not because it was difficult to play, but felt it was a truly terrible solo ...
    Luv the song... just felt the solo didn't fit the mood ..

    The most fun I've had is playing disco & funk songs ...
     
  14. mild

    mild Member

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    I think Paul Jackson Jr. on American Idol has gotten it right. They do every style imaginable, and he chops it all in half (he is a freak talent) and sounds great in the process, every time. Its all about bringing yourself to the table, and imparting yourself onto what is required.

    I think great tone is going to come from your phrasing, your note selection, and your interpretation and understanding of what is required for the song... having some nice sounding gear wont mean squat if you can't get that nailed. Great tone is great tone - but it means different things to different people... great Jazz tone vs. great EVH tone vs. Zeppelin tone, etc...
     
  15. Noah

    Noah Member

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    Greg Howe plays for Justin Timberlake, Rafael Moreira plays for Christina Aguilera, Ron Thal played for Jessica Simpson. All those guys surely have integrity...
     
  16. Lolaviola

    Lolaviola Supporting Member

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    Pop requires yoiu to make your statement as directly and quickly as possible, as opposed to something that has to "grow" onto you, or be digested and dissected.
    A good pop tone will reflect the mood and motivation of the tune, and should "take" the song somewhere.
    It's harder than it sounds.
     
  17. mrspeed

    mrspeed Member

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    That's funny because I always loved the solo and think it's one of the greatest tones put on tape.
     
  18. Lucidology

    Lucidology Member

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    Wow.. that's your first post ..
    Did you join up to just let me know ... ?:)
     
  19. MudPies

    MudPies Member

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    NO MAKING FUN OF POST COUNTS IN MY THREAD. THAT COULD BE MR DAVID GILMORE FOR ALL WE KNOW.

    that's all, carry on. I appreciate your opinions.
     
  20. Lucidology

    Lucidology Member

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    It wasn't about how many posts he had...
    It was about him joining for the purpose of just countering my opinion ...
     

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